Sarkin painted a piece live onstage at the MET while Guster plays “Jesus On the Radio” from Guster’s new album featuring cover art by Sarkin–Easy Wonderful.
Spectrum was thrilled to present an evening of art and music featuring Guster, an alternative rock band, and Jon Sarkin, an American folk artist.
Ken Moore, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of Musical Instruments, and Carrie Rebora Barratt, associate director for collections and administration, facilitated a conversation between Guster and Sarkin on their recent collaboration and the historic relationship between artists and musicians.
Guster performed a special set following the conversation, during which Sarkin created a new work of art live on stage.
The three principal members of Guster—Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller, and Brian Rosenworcel—met and began playing music together in the dorms of Tufts University in the early 1990s. Over fifteen years later, the band is operating at the absolute peak of its creative powers and playing to the largest audiences of its career.
Guster’s sixth studio album, Easy Wonderful, was released in October 2010 and earned the band rave reviews with the Wall Street Journal, who hailed its “jangly, ebullient rock,” and USA Today, who wrote that Guster’s “impeccable, infectious” songs are “impossible not to feel.” The album opened at #2 on the iTunes chart and earned Guster its highest debut to date on the Billboard Top 200.
Sarkin created the album art for Easy Wonderful and also created art for—and appeared in—the music video for the single “Do You Love Me.” Sarkin has a fascinating story; he was a successful chiropractor until he had a stroke at age 35 and was overcome by a desire to create art.
check out photos from the event on Flickr
Inspired by GMG…
Jon Sarkin is one of the most interesting people I have ever encountered. And it just so happens that we each call Gloucester “home.” His impressive resume includes two, substantial Vanity Fair articles, staring in this Pulitzer finalist NJ Star Ledger story, and having sold pieces of his work to private collections held by, among others, icons Diane von Furstenburg and Annie Leibovitz. This, of course, fails to mention exhibits across the U.S. or placement in influential arenas like MOMA. Or how Tom Cruise bought the rights to his life story. Jon’s accolades go on and on… It’s wonderful and exciting for us. But it’s just life for him. Life post-trauma.
This past Fall, I had the opportunity to visit his now-empty Birds Eye studio on The Fort. The property itself — an abandoned factory on the harbor — is stunning. Not “stunning” so as to imply a pristine, novel, or grandeur sense of the word. But stunning in so far as the space was open, simple, and aged. Stunning as in perhaps perfect for Sarkin, right down to doorbell note. (He has since moved to a Main Street location.)
During a brief visit, Jon and I did not speak about his art; he rather chose to ignore the stacks of canvas and paper strewn about, one more impressive than the other. Instead, we dabbled in the niceties of small talk. The Velvet Underground. Local restaurants and sandwich shops. Carpentry. Of course, as it always will, the adult-go-to, “what do you do?” came up. Shrugging, visibly embarrassed by then empty attempts at both retail and for-sale art stuffs, it became painfully apparent that I didn’t want to talk about it.
Faced with what could have been yet another spoke-too-soon hole in which I dug and promptly laid, Jon was amazing. He said that one of the most important parts of life is respecting boundaries. I had set mine. He wasn’t going to try and sneak around it, duck under it, or trick me away from it. After sharing a few of his lines-were-crossed stories, he clapped his hands as if to wipe them clean of the trivial matter and — just like that — we moved on. I was touched by his approach. Bewildered by how the thing I should do and the thing I was doing, in all of it’s simplicity, was the same. Eloquent yet elementary. Letting go.
Discovery Science Channel aired this piece on Jon in December. Certainly worth the 20-odd minutes. I will say that he was much warmer in my meeting than he appears in this video. Though the buckets of chalks, paints, and crayons, and those boat shoes are very much real. In the best of ways.
One of Jon’s most recent endeavors involved Guster’s music video for “Do You Love Me.” A wonderful concept, executed in part by local advertising heroes, Bait and Tackle. Apparently, iTunes felt the same. The video’s success has lead to a line of Sarkin-inspired merchandise, a re-skinning of the band’s MySpace page, and a fun new cover on the deluxe edition of the appropriately titled, Easy Wonderful.
I believe there is a lot of happiness to be had, through wisdom and acceptance, in the world of Jon Sarkin. I really, really do.
It’s been four years since we last heard from Boston feel-good rockers Guster, whose sixth LP,Easy Wonderful, hits shelves October 5. The quintet recruited artist Jon Sarkin to design everything for Easy Wonderful,from the album cover and merchandise, to the guitar straps they use onstage. Sarkin, who is the older brother of V.F.’s features editor Jane Sarkin, created the whimsical album art, crediting Guster’s upbeat music as the inspiration for the color wheel. “Doing the album art is a lot like advertising,” Jon Sarkin told us yesterday. “You want to convey visually what the music is all about.”
The album art is a combination of four cover ideas that the Gloucester-based artist designed that were then photoshopped together by the band’s artistic director. “I’m really happy with what he did” Sarkin said. “He really got my sense and didn’t have a heavy hand at all.”
The guys in Guster have been Sarkin fans for years, and drummer Brian Rosenworcel even has a few pieces of Sarkin’s in his home. So it was no coincidence that Sarkin and Guster meshed so well. So well, in fact, that the quintet asked him to collaborate on the music video for their first single, “Do You Love Me,” where Sarkin painted lead singer Ryan Miller—putting a beautiful coda on his work for Easy Wonderful.
Check out Guster’s website specifically for the release of Easy Wonderful, featuring oodles of Sarkin’s work:
September 6, 2010
By Joann Mackenzie
“I don’t like it,” said the president of Universal Music.
He was talking to Dalton Sim, manager of Massachusetts indie pop band Guster about the final edit of their new music video, “Do You Love Me?”
“Dalton was devastated,” says Chad Carlberg, head of Gloucester’s Production Blue Co., who’d directed and produced the video. “But then, the guy says, ‘I don’t like it — I love it!’”
So, apparently, does Apple iTunes, which has selected Carlberg’s “Do You Love Me?” video, the lead track on Guster’s new album “Easy Wonderful,” as the coveted iTune video of the week, launching Sept. 13. The video’s included post-production work in Gloucester’s former Birdseye building after being filmed in part at Gordon College in Wenham.
“This is huge,” says Guster drummer Brian Rosenworcel, “the biggest news that’s ever happened in our band’s history.
“Of the thousands of videos submitted each year, only 52 get selected for iTune of the week, and they’re not giving them up to indie bands like us,” he noted.
Apple isn’t giving them up to first-time music video directors, either. In fact, the chance of a first time music video director nabbing iTune video of week are apparently off the charts, Carlberg said. Yet Carlberg, who, as head of Production Blue’s parent company, Gloucester ad agency Bait & Tackle, has directed and produced over 1,200 commercials, pulled it off.
It all started with a phone call, from Rosenworcel to Carlberg, asking for a recommendation on the cover art. Carlberg recommended his old friend and Gloucester artist extraordinaire, Jon Sarkin. After that, Carlberg’s continued involvement was strictly unsolicited.
Pitching pro-actively against high-profile directors short-listed from New York and Los Angeles for the big-budget production, the Gloucester filmmaker wowed Kim Garner, Universal Music’s senior vice president for music videos, with a concept that extended Sarkin’s involvement from cover art to playing an integral part of the video.
“Winning the project was huge in itself,” says Carlberg, “but this, to be selected Apple iTune video of the week?”
The iTunes brand accounts for 70 percent of worldwide online digital music sales, making the service the largest legal music retailer. It’s a big leap for local filmmaker Carlberg — and, he’s quick to add, it’s been a Gloucester collaboration all the way.
“Sarkin is Gloucester,” says Carlberg, “my companies have always been Gloucester, my team (co-director Sten Bowen and editor Emile Doucette) is Gloucester, post-production was out of the Birdseye Building.”
The video itself was shot locally, too, at Gordon College, and the cast, including Gordon students, was locally recruited. The concept, which involved Sarkin using the video as a live-action canvas, was tricky on a few fronts.
Most important, says Carlberg, was ensuring that Sarkin’s art, “which is always blow-away,” he said, would support the band and the music.
“Jon’s art could have overwhelmed them, so that was always a concern, to make sure that the art would be ‘scaffolding’ supporting Guster’s physical presence and music,” Carlberg added. “We knew that was something top management at Universal Music was going to be very sensitive to, so we really worked to strike the right balance there.”
In addition to the Apple iTunes coup, the video is expected to be shown on the websites of both Vanity Fair magazine and Entertainment Weekly to augment anticipated coverage both in Entertainment Weekly and in Vanity Fair’s October issue. The video is also scheduled for a Nov. 19 airing in a Discovery Network program about Sarkin and his art.
Future plans, although still in talking phase, definitely include more video collaboration between Sarkin, Carlberg, and the Production Blue film making team.
Buoyed by their major league coup, the small-town team is thinking big.
According to Carlberg, Sarkin now has his sights set on a video — featuring none other than fellow eccentric artist, Lady Gaga.
Joann Mackenzie can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3447, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Original Article URL: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x797275157/Gloucester-Guster-video-gets-big-iTunes-nod